Interim chief draws support in Nashville
BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Monday, April 15, 2019
NASHVILLE — Support from Nashville residents recently has been surfacing to have interim police Chief Joey Corbett named as the town’s top cop — and Corbett has support from a town council member.
“I am for him being named the permanent police chief,” Councilwoman Louise Hinton told the Telegram. “He has been a good police officer for 13 years in our town. And I just think he has been very loyal to the town and the citizens appreciate everything that he has done.”
Tom Bashore, who had been Nashville’s police chief for slightly more than six years, stepped aside in December to take a position with the N.C. Sheriffs’ Association.
The application deadline was Friday to apply for the Nashville police chief’s position. Town Clerk Lou Bunch said there were 12 applications at the close of the day.
During the town council’s April 2 meeting, eight town residents said — or read aloud letters from other residents saying — they believe Corbett should be considered for elevation to chief. Their reasons included Corbett going above and beyond the call of duty, helping other law enforcement agencies and having a calm demeanor.
Hinton told the Telegram she is not opposed to the search process, but she said the town government has had so much instability she believes it would be good to have a police chief who knows Nashville.
Hinton was referring to the firings of Town Manager Hank Raper and Finance Director Linda Modlin. Hinton also was referring to the loss of Bashore as police chief and the hiring of Julie Spriggs as planning director after the previous director left to join his family business.
“I mean, everything has been in flux,” Hinton said.
Others on the town council reached by the Telegram noted Nashville has a council-manager form of government, with the manager being the one who hires the police chief.
Mayor Pro Tem Charles Taylor believes the citizen input on April 2 was quite good, saying, “It gives you an idea of how (Corbett) is received by the community. And obviously he seemed to meet the approval of the people, especially the people who were there.”
Taylor, while respectful of people interested in Corbett being named police chief, emphasized a need for fairness in the search process.
“We can’t prematurely not look at the other candidates,” Taylor said. “We can’t make a decision until after all the applicants come in.”
Councilman Larry Taylor said while he has no problem with Corbett’s performance, he said whenhiring someone, one must find out who’s the best suited or the best qualified for the job.
Taylor said he does have a preference, but he said he is going to keep that to himself and let interim Manager Leonard Barefoot do his job.
“I have to be neutral right now because that’s the way our system works,” he said.
Attempts to obtain comment from Town Councilwoman Kate Burns were unsuccessful.
Mayor Donald Street said while a public voice in a democracy is always important, he cited the prematurity of saying anything while the application period was still open.
“I do not know who the competition is,” Street said. “I’ve seen none of the applications — and in our form of government, I probably won’t.”
Barefoot said while people can certainly have their own prerogative, “My job is to look for the most qualified person to fill the position. And that’s why we advertise.”
Barefoot said he has no time frame set to make the hire.
The advertisement for the police chief’s position said the salary range is $55,340-$69,175, depending on experience and qualifications and said the chief must become a resident of the town within six months of being hired. Bashore was being paid $63,394 a year.
Attempts to reach Corbett for comment were unsuccessful.